Gray feels good after third rehab start, Abrams not in lineup after MRI on wrist

Josiah Gray was back in the Nationals clubhouse this morning after making his third rehab start with Double-A Harrisburg last night.

Gray, on the 15-day injured list since April 9 (retroactive to April 6) with a right elbow/forearm flexor strain, threw 79 pitches over five innings in last night’s outing, his second with the Senators. He gave up two runs on three hits and three walks with five strikeouts.

Results aside, the right-hander said he felt good.

“I felt good, felt really good,” he said at his locker. “I got five innings there, (about) 80 pitches. Everything was really crisp. Changeup, curveball, fastball, cutter were on point and everything felt in control. Felt that I was throwing my best stuff out there. So I'm just looking forward to the next step and seeing where we go from there.”

Gray wasn’t sure what his next steps would be at the time. He was going to meet with manager Davey Martinez and the Nats training staff before today’s matinee finale against the Diamondbacks. The Nationals embark on a nine-game cross-country road trip tonight, and Gray didn’t know whether or not he would be going with them.

“I don't know,” he said. “But I'll be talking with Davey and the guys and just seeing what they have in mind. Continue to go and stay the course. So just day-by-day and see what they got from me.”

As with any pitcher, the Nationals have also largely been concerned with how Gray has felt the day after his starts. So far through three rehab outings, he has felt normal, physically, the day after he pitches.

“I feel good,” Gray said. “Regular throwing soreness, but nothing too alarming that the trainers won't work with me on. So I feel good. I feel like my body's responding to the buildup pretty well. And I'm glad that the team has given me the time to build up because, with each start, I feel like I'm getting back to feeling healthy, feeling strong and just building to the next one.”

Gray landed on the IL after just two major league starts, in which he allowed 13 runs in 8 ⅓ innings. So another challenge for him was being patient during this long rehab process.

“I think with the whole rehab process, about halfway in, I just kind of had to take a step back and give myself some grace and say, 'This is going to be a long process. A longer process than maybe myself imagined or other people had imagined,'” he said. “But in understanding that there's going to be ups and downs and just accepting all of that, it really gave me the wherewithal to just appreciate every day, be grateful for every day. Kind of just come in every day I can to just get better and work towards getting back out there on the field.”

The next time he gets back out there on the field could be with the Nationals. If the Nats decide to take him on the upcoming road trip, he could be lined up to make his return on Monday in San Diego. That spot in the rotation currently belongs to Patrick Corbin, who is now 1-7 with a 5.60 ERA and 1.598 WHIP in 15 starts. The veteran left-hander, who is a pending free agent at the end of the season, could be moved to the bullpen, which only has one lefty.

In case Gray needs one more rehab start, Harrisburg begins a road series in Erie, Pa., and Triple-A Rochester returns home for the week. Both series begin Tuesday, which would give Gray an extra day of rest.

* CJ Abrams is not in the Nats lineup for today’s finale after being a late scratch before yesterday’s game. The young shortstop had an MRI on his left wrist after being unsure how he hurt it.

Abrams was in the clubhouse this morning testing the wrist with soft swinging motions, first with it taped up and then with a small splint-like wrap on it. He seemed to like the way the splint felt more, but apparently the Nationals didn’t think it was worth the risk for him to play today.

It’s also unclear if Abrams is available off the bench today. Martinez doesn’t speak to the media before games on days when first pitch is scheduled before 1:30 p.m., so we’ll have to wait until after the game for more clarity.

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